Traditionally, the use of a brush (毛笔 - máobǐ) for writing Chinese characters was developed and was the most popular until modern times. Caligraphy is still a popular art in China. There are a different fonts in print and caligraphy. The basic types of script are
|甲骨文 (Jiǎgǔwén) Bone script
||篆文 (Zhuànwén) Seal script
||隶书 (Lìshu) Clerical script
||行书 (Xíngshū) Semi-cursive script
||草书 (Cǎoshū) Cursive script
||楷书 (Kǎishū) Regular script
The table gives the different forms for the character for sun or day (日 - rì). Sometimes different translations for the character forms are given: oracle bone script for bone script, 'official form' for clerical script, 'modern form' for regular script. Seal script is split into small seal (小篆 - xiǎozhuàn, shown above) and great seal (大篆 - dàzhuàn).
In digital form there are a few different aspects of Chinese fonts that are very different from Latin fonts. Chinese fonts are nearly always fixed width. This can make can make embedded numerals and Latin text look strange. Italic and underline not common in Chinese. Underline may be used for mouseover or a different color used, such as blue, used to differentiate links from regular text.
Obtaining basic Chinese fonts is not the problem it used to be. For windows they can readily be obtained from Microsoft and for Linux they are now included in the basic Fedora distribution. The choice of font will depend on the range of characters needed to be displayed and artistic considerations.
The most popular font family is Song typeface (宋体 - sòngtǐ), also known as Ming typeface (明体 - míngtǐ). This typeface is comparable to serif fonts such as Times New Roman in that the ends of the strokes are thickened. The other popular type is black typeface (黑体 - hēitǐ). This typeface is comparable to sans-serifs, such as Arial.
Many types of creative fonts in different calligraphic styles can be found at the GoodFont.net web site [GFONT].
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